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Estimating asset correlations from stock prices or default rates: which method is superior?

  • Düllmann, Klaus
  • Kunisch, Michael
  • Küll, Jonathan
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    This paper sets out to help explain why estimates of asset correlations based on equity prices tend to be considerably higher than estimates based on default rates. Resolving this empirical puzzle is highly important because, firstly, asset correlations are a key driver of credit risk and, secondly, both data sources are widely used to calibrate risk models of financial institutions. By means of a simulation study, we explore the hypothesis that differences in the correlation estimates are due to a substantial downward bias characteristic of estimates based on default rates. Our results suggest that correlation estimates from equity returns are more efficient than those from default rates. This finding still holds if the model is misspecified such that asset correlations follow a Vasicek process which affects foremost the estimates from equity returns. The results lend support for the hypothesis that the downward bias of default-rate based estimates is an important although not the only factor to explain the differences in correlation estimates. Furthermore, our results help to quantify the estimation error of asset correlations dependent on the risk characteristics of the underlying data base.

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    File URL: http://econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/19781/1/200804dkp_b_.pdf
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    Paper provided by Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre in its series Discussion Paper Series 2: Banking and Financial Studies with number 2008,04.

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    Date of creation: 2008
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    Handle: RePEc:zbw:bubdp2:7314
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    1. Dietsch, Michel & Petey, Joel, 2004. "Should SME exposures be treated as retail or corporate exposures? A comparative analysis of default probabilities and asset correlations in French and German SMEs," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 773-788, April.
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    4. Longin, Francois & Solnik, Bruno, 1995. "Is the correlation in international equity returns constant: 1960-1990?," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 3-26, February.
    5. Michael B. Gordy, 1998. "A comparative anatomy of credit risk models," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1998-47, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    6. Düllmann, Klaus & Scheicher, Martin & Schmieder, Christian, 2007. "Asset correlations and credit portfolio risk: an empirical analysis," Discussion Paper Series 2: Banking and Financial Studies 2007,13, Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre.
    7. Jones, E Philip & Mason, Scott P & Rosenfeld, Eric, 1984. " Contingent Claims Analysis of Corporate Capital Structures: An Empirical Investigation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 39(3), pages 611-25, July.
    8. Michael B. Gordy, 2002. "A risk-factor model foundation for ratings-based bank capital rules," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2002-55, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    9. Merton, Robert C., 1973. "On the pricing of corporate debt: the risk structure of interest rates," Working papers 684-73., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
    10. Rösch, Daniel, 2003. "Correlations and Business Cycles of Credit Risk: Evidence from Bankruptcies in Germany," University of Regensburg Working Papers in Business, Economics and Management Information Systems 380, University of Regensburg, Department of Economics.
    11. Jose A. Lopez, 2002. "The empirical relationship between average asset correlation, firm probability of default and asset size," Working Paper Series 2002-05, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    12. Düllmann, Klaus & Trapp, Monika, 2004. "Systematic Risk in Recovery Rates: An Empirical Analysis of US Corporate Credit Exposures," Discussion Paper Series 2: Banking and Financial Studies 2004,02, Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre.
    13. Bollerslev, Tim & Engle, Robert F & Wooldridge, Jeffrey M, 1988. "A Capital Asset Pricing Model with Time-Varying Covariances," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(1), pages 116-31, February.
    14. Fisher, Lawrence, 1984. " Contingent Claims Analysis of Corporate Capital Structures: An Empirical Investigation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 39(3), pages 625-27, July.
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